Thursday, March 08, 2007

An Organized Sort of Fun

To my credit, there have been many changes in my behavior since I had children. I am decidedly tidier, sometimes to the point of obsessiveness, but I have let go of a lot of control issues. You have no real control over children. It is all an illusion.

I am a laid back, hippie mom who eats an almost strictly Vegan diet and does Yoga with her kids. We are learning about recycling and go on nature walks when it is warm enough. We spend a lot of time acting out wildly creative and elaborate stories while playing dress-up. We finger paint on old sheets. We build forts with blankets and the furniture. We dance...a lot. I make up songs. I only own one pair of jeans that doesn't have holes in the knees because I spend so much time on the floor with my kids. We have no TV channels. Yep, no cable and we live too far out in the middle of nothing to pick up antenna. We read a lot of books. I am so proud of the mom I have come to be. And yet...

I am compulsively neat. We do each of the above-mentioned activities one at a time. We put everything away exactly where it goes when we are done. And since OCD runs in my family, "exactly where it goes" is pretty severe. I have certain angles I like to prop the toys on the shelves. They are separated by age appropriateness, genre and sometimes, by color. This little bit of OCD has never really bothered me. I actually have found it helpful for keeping a clean house. My own little bit of personal crazy.

Today, however, we were playing on the big dinosaur mat we have with lots of little dinosaurs and a couple of My Little Ponies, Jesus and Noah. I was holding two toys, Jesus and a dinosaur, when Helen says, "No, Mama. One at a time." Apparently I couldn't hold two toys at once. It is against the rules. Then I look over at what she has done... All the dinosaurs and ponies were lined up in a straight horizontal line, in ascending size. One at a time, Helen was picking them up, letting them eat from the pretend tree and then carefully placing them back in line. When Philip came over and promptly destroyed the line (as boys will do), it made Helen cry.

Initially, I thought, my daughter is SO SMART! She lined all those up by size. But then I saw what she had done for what it really was, a mimic of Mommy's crazy. It was in fact, a very organized sort of fun. Not laid back at all, but very structured and rigid. And I felt that for all my hopes and dreams of becoming a big, nasty hippie, I can't let go of my control. For those who know me well, you know that perhaps lines of neatly organized toys is a far better exertion of this need than my many previous habits, but it's still not much better. I have a long, long way to go. But, hey, I haven't shaved in like 8 months, and that's gotta count for something, right?

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